Fractional-Electron and Transition-Potential Methods for Core-to-Valence Excitation Energies Using Density Functional Theory

21 February 2023, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Methods for computing x-ray absorption spectroscopy at the self-consistent field level are examined, based on a constrained core hole (possibly containing a fractional electron), and in some cases promoting an electron or a fraction of an electron into the virtual space. These methods are based on Slater's transition concept and its generalizations (including the transition-potential method), wherein core-to-valence excitation energies are determined using Kohn-Sham orbital energies. Variants of this idea are systematically tested, revealing a best-case accuracy of 0.3-0.4 eV with respect to experiment for K-edge excitation energies, although errors are much larger in many cases. For higher-lying near-edge transitions, even the best of these methods affords errors of ~2 eV. Absolute errors are reduced below 1 eV by introducing an empirical shift based on a charge-neutral transition-potential method, in conjunction with functionals such as SCAN, SCAN0, or B3LYP. This procedure affords an entire excitation spectrum from a single fractional-electron calculation, at the cost of ground-state density functional theory and without the need for state-by-state calculations. This shifted transition-potential approach may be especially useful for simulating transient spectroscopies or in complex systems where excited-state Kohn-Sham calculations are challenging,


core-level spectroscopy
density functional theory
transition-potential DFT

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Raw data for all benchmark calculations.


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